NASA turns 55 and then shuts down


242148-2b825a9e-2a7c-11e3-a9c3-6361e8d92576October 1st marks NASA’s birthday, and to celebrate, the US government is shutting it down—temporarily, at least.

There are six astronauts floating some 250 miles above the Earth in the International Space Station (ISS), performing routine maintenance on the ISS and the Hubble telescope, while 16 satellites are observing the US and seven spacecraft are orbiting the sun.

But as of yesterday, most of those services were shut down.

In a statement at the White House, President Barack Obama said, “NASA will shut down almost entirely, but Mission Control will remain open to support the astronauts serving on the Space Station”.

Only 549 of NASA’s 18,250 staffers will be required to work while the government is in shut down.

In an email to employees, NASA’s Office of Human Capital management outlined the procedures that furloughed them:

“During the furlough, you will be in a non-pay, non-duty status,” said the email. “You must remain away from your work site, and may not work at home or in another location, unless and until recalled. NASA laptop computers, smart phones, and other resources used for remote access must be turned off and may not be used while you are furloughed.”

NASA’s Twitter feeds are also going on hiatus:

“Due to government shutdown, we will not be posting or responding from this account. Farewell, humans. Sort it out yourselves,” tweeted the operators of NASA’s Voyager 2’s Twitter account, which has now been temporarily suspended.

The shutdown will put a stall on any projects or technologies that NASA is still developing.

Image and article courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald and CS Monitor